The magic of numbers in daily life

17.10.2017 | China

Why numbers?

Did you know that Chinese culture has a  close connection with numbers , the meaning of numbers plays an important role in daily life. You can notice this without reading books or articles – it’s enough to stay in China for a while to see this.  During the sales in the shops you’ll see numbers 666, 866, 988 – lucky numbers. If you’ll attend wedding or birthday party, friends will tell you that you should send money in amount ending on 8, so you’ll send 988 RMB, not 1000 we usually do. Look at this example, it’s a mail from my Shanghai daily offers:


So, which numbers are lucky?

 8 – ba 八  sounds like “fa” 发 (fa cai 发财 means “to get rich” ). So there is a craziness about buying all the things that have number 8 or in amount of 8! (Of course! If I’ll bring to me wealth, I’ll buy 8 dresses and 8 chocolates in case!). Really, people spend a huge money to get married on the 8th or 18th date, to buy a mobile number with a lot of 8 numbers or to buy lucky car registration plate. By the way, I’m supposed to be a lucky person in China because my birthday date is 28.08! May be that’s why I love China so much!


 Multiples of 2  numbers are lucky, but especially number 6 liu 六. There is a phrase “liu liu da shun” 六六大顺 – “wish you good luck”.

 Multiples of 3  and especially number 9jiu 九.  Jiu sounds similar with jiu 久 “long”,  so it means longevity and continuous prosperity. There are 9999 rooms in famous Forbidden City in Beijing, as imperator build it as a timeless construction. If boyfriend will send you 99 roses, it means that he will love you forever, so sweet.



Everybody should know famous red pockets in China  “hong bao”  红包, because it’s the usual way to send a gift and just to have fun in social websites in China. So, there are always combination of this numbers listed above:  6.66, 9.99 ect.

Unlucky numbers

 4 number  is the worst. Si 四 sounds like si 死 – “the death”. People avoid this number in everything around,  and (can you imagine!) some buildings even don’t have 4th floor! If it happened that you living in the 4th floor, don’t scare your Chinese friends with this news, please!)) Don’t stay in hotel room with number 4, 44 or 444, who knows if it really works! Don’t celebrate something on 4th date, better to change the date… to 6th for example


 250 number  means “foolish” so people prefer to avoid this number  in any business discussions and even they will pay more money in the bill not to be “idiots”.

Numbers in phrases

So many interesting phrases we have learned in Chinese lessons that are connected with numbers! That’s truly unique feature of Chinese culture!

  • 五颜六色  – wu yan liu se means “colorful”. Literally means “5-6 colors” and used to describe flovers, clothes.

  • 七上八下 – qi shang ba xia means “to be worried about something” . Literally “seven up six dows”,  so it’s a state when your heart goes up and down.

  • 十拿九稳 – shi na jiu wen means “I’m confident about something” – “from ten takes nine are stable”.

  • 丢三落四 – diu san luo si means “person who always lose something” (me! ). Translated like “lost three fell four”, so he always forget and lose things.

  • 独一无二 – du yi wu er means “something unique and unreplaceable”, translation is “only one and not the second”.

  • 千山万水 – qian shan wan shui means “far way with a lot of challenges”. Literally “thousand mountains, ten thousand water”. Means that something is thousand miles away from final destination, a way filled with difficulties and dangers. It alsocan be said inverted 万水千山 wan shui qian shan.

  • 十万八千里 – shi wan ba qian li means  “far away, miles away from here”. Translation – “one hundred eight thousand away”. And also you can notice that there is a lucky number 8 as is should be in Chinese phrases!

All this facts are not just an old superstitions, it’s a real life and a total confidence that numbers are very important. This shows the Chinese way of thinking about life and luck – people can’t control everything in their life, people need a support of something “wiser” than them. They need not only knowledge and plans, they need a  lucky fortune . The more I live in China, the more I see that these believes are very strong and settled.  But I love this way of thinking as


it makes people life a live in a proper way, to deserve the happiness by good behaviour, not only to rely on themselves.


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